April has been a good month, Not So Stories came out to lots of very lovely reviews and I got lots of writing time to edit more of my YA WIP. I didn’t get to finish my friend Nige’s script readthrough, though, as he pushed it to May. More on that next month.

Writing

I’ve really nailed down all the subplots and themes in THE CURSED HEIR so the editing is zipping along. By the end of the month, I’d just entered the third act, which sounds good, as long as you don’t know I always leave my third acts loose and messy so I can incorporate ideas gestated while editing. I did manage to squeeze in an extra chapter, set in a whole new corner of the world which meant lots of fun research and poring over Google Maps.

Books

I managed a pretty good five books in April. The first, Children of Blood and Bone, was a cracking read. I was reading it during Follycon 2018, where the guest of honour Nnedi Okorafor talked about how great it was to see more books coming through from Nigerian writers. I can see it becoming a kind of Harry Potter for young kids today, the way the different magics work drawing in people the way Hogwarts houses do, but with a strong black cast of characters. I think my biggest negative was the slightly vague ending. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen that for a YA book though, so I wonder if this is known as a good hook for series.

Children of Blood and Bone

Children of Blood and Bone

The Sisters Mederos is a book I picked up because I met the wonderful author at Follycon. She was so smart and interesting, I knew I’d enjoy her writing. Indeed, a fantasy historical story about two sisters, one with magic, one with a pair of pistols, not letting society control their lives.

Under the Pendulum Sun, which people could pick up for the cover art alone, is a very unusual novel. I think the best way I could describe it is as a gothic fairy religious romance. The world building and atmosphere of this fairyland just off our shores is wonderful, with the main character living a languid daydream with little that feels real. The focus is on the missionaries, rather than on the fairies, and I wonder if a further novel would widen that. The pacing is important, it is very slow which I liked, but I can imagine it not working for everyone. That said, the twist, and I don’t want to spoil it, noped me out so hard it was a little difficult to finish. Not a trope I like.

Under the Pendulum Sun

Under the Pendulum Sun

Groom of the Tyrannosaur Queen was given to me by the lovely author who I also met at Follycon 2018. This is such a fun time travel story about a retired soldier who escorts scientists to the past, written with much love for the classic pulps of the past. As well as that, the depth of knowledge constantly shines through on everything from bronze age civilisations to linguistics to dinosaurs.

Six of Crows has been on my to read pile forever, so I finally read it. If only I’d know it was about a heist, I’d have read it sooner. There’s a MacGuffin that needs stealing and six kids who are up to the job. It’s a nice heist, and there are lots of good complications and twists and turns. However, I did think of Connie Willis at Clarion West telling us that coincidences should be negative when things felt a little easy or pat once or twice. Despite feeling that this was the later book in a series (apparently, there’s another earlier series) there was enough strong worldbuilding for it to stand on its own. Not that I want love triangles or anything, but the six kids fell into romantic pairs a little too easily for my taste, especially as the gay kid Wylan didn’t get a POV chapter but the other five did. Still, it’s a minor flaw and I’m always up for more fantasy heists.

Films

A few rewatches this month, with only one desi film – but what a film, with a mostly Indian American cast.

The Tiger Hunter

The Tiger Hunter

The Tiger Hunter is a comedy about a young Indian immigrant trying to become ‘American’ and what that really means. What is the American dream, what is success? It is a comedy, so some of the harsh aspects of immigrant life are played for humour, such as the one bed tiny apartment housing eleven (or more) people at once. It’s a well known story, immigrant arrives on hostile shores and is shocked, but the cultural depth and sweet characters make it a delight to watch. Plus the 1970’s settings, including the cars, are fantastic. Considering the current world climate, the ultimate message that the American dream isn’t worth fretting over and that you should find the greatness in your life is a wonderful one.

I rewatched Cloud Atlas with my partner. They hadn’t seen it, and since we’d been talking about the changes between books and films and whitewashing this seemed like a good film to continue those conversations. There are elements I do like, the relationship between Frobisher and Sixsmith, Sonmi herself, and Timothy Cavendish and his friends. I truly dislike the tacked on happy ending though, so that was a big cause for discussion.

I also rewatched Kill Bill 1 & 2. It’s been a while, especially for 2, and it was a hard watch in places after Uma Thurman’s interview about the car crash. It has aged. The assault of The Bride while she’s in a coma is used to help spur her on. It’s not empowering that women must experience trauma to be ‘strong’. The film could be just as strong showing her revenge on Bill and the rest of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad (which is still a result of trauma without sexual assault).

TV

The Magicians ended. I’m going to do a post on it because it’s so good, but wow, that ending! I have so much love for this show. They are very good at defying and twisting your expectations in completely satisfying ways.

The Expanse season 3 came back to fill the gap left by the magicians and boy, has it filled that slot well. It’s probably my favourite show tied with The Magicians. (The Magicians gets a boost for so much desi rep. Like so much!) Spaceships and badass women off colour and politics and alien protomolecules. What’s not to love? (They even added a desi guest character – Alex’s wife! – so bonus points for that.)

The Expanse

The Expanse

iZombie is still ticking along as a good fun show with a great co-lead with Rahul Kohli. He’s always great and a light show is fun sometimes. Shadowhunters managed to drop way down my list of favourites by dumping their male desi recurring cast member after yet another appalling storyline. (He does something the main cast do all the time. They get away with it. He gets banished. Yawn.)

Into the Badlands is back for season 3. I was left with a bad taste in my mouth when they killed off Veil last season, but a powerful desi lead like M.K. with his abilities is rare, so I’m sticking with it for now to see how it plays out.

Into the Badlands

Into the Badlands

I watched more Schitt’s Creek, mostly for Riz Manji who I love. He’s a minor character, but it’s a mostly fun, silly show, so it’s nice and light in between the more serious shows.

Jessica Jones season 2 really left me cold. Season 1 had issues, mostly the way Jessica stalked and used Luke after Reva’s death ’emancipated’ her, but overall I enjoyed it. Season 2 really centred white womanhood at the expense of the people of colour. From Malcolm being presented as an annoying puppy, to new guys, ‘evil’ Cheng the utterly twisted rival PI who is fixated on her, to finally new guy Oscar Arocho. They need to stop using powers as an analogy for race and start caring about race.

We tried Lost in Space. I’m not too keen yet, it seems to be lurch from one disaster to another, but I like disaster films so I’m keeping trying it for a while. The robot is pretty good, the human characters less so.

Still watching and enjoying Black Lightning and Brooklyn Nine Nine. Both consistently excellent.

It should be noted that yes, it’s great I’m seeing more desi characters on TV, but Riz Manji was in The Tiger Keeper, The Magicians and Schitt’s Creek. As much as I love him, we need more than ~10 desi actors in all of Hollywood.

Games

Frostpunk is a nice little survival game where you’re stranded in a future England and it’s getting colder. You have to deal with the weather, illness, the influx of refugees, food, coal, etc and also people. Control then using force or religion, make children work or let them be educated, etc. It’s a good fun game, if a little short for the price. Well worth a buy on sale though.

Now that alleged Civ master Nige has built a new PC, I’ve been practicing my Civ 6 game. Firing up and randomising leaders and seeing how I do. Civ 6 already challenges your gameplay style and by not allowing myself a leader I know well, it’s been really different and fun.

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I did see Infinity Wars at the cinema, but it’s still close enough I’m not getting into it for spoiler reasons. I will only say, gosh. (And also damn, Cap looks good with a beard).

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